Conservation Matters November 2012

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

Dwindling water supplies prompt recommendations for growers

Water ManagementTexas A&M AgriLife Research has released a set of recommendations for South Texas growers facing an extended drought and dwindling water supplies, according to an agency water engineer.

"A relentless drought, record high temperatures and depleted water reserves for the past two years in South Texas require us to take a closer look at how we manage water under water-limiting conditions," said Dr. Juan Enciso, a water engineer at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco.

While the state has suffered multi-billion dollar agricultural losses due to drought, the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas has been especially hard-hit, and local irrigation districts are facing projected water shortages, Enciso said.

"Before growers start planning for what they're going to plant next year, they need to contact the manager of the irrigation district they are in," said Wayne Halbert, manager of the Harlingen Irrigation District. "Each irrigation district has individual allocations of water, policies of how water is allocated and water duties, meaning water available to farmers varies by district."

AgriLife Research has provided 16 management recommendations to help growers address this period of limited water supplies, Enciso said.

The recommendations are available at weslaco.tamu.edu and include leveling land while fields are dry, installing flow meters and rain gauges to manage water use, reducing irrigated areas to give priority to perennial crops such as citrus and sugarcane, planting more drought-resistant crops, and considering which crops have high- and low-yield response, profitability and risk to water stress, Enciso said. The list is also available by emailing him at j-enciso@tamu.edu.

Read the full AgriLife TODAY article for more information.

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